Google has made some changes to its AdSense policy, some minor but another that may have a major impact on many publishers.

Jennifer Slegg provides a detailed run-down of the changes at JenSense. The minor changes deal with their referral program, using images next to ad units, AdSense for search, and copyright material. The bigger change that will impact publishers deals with their Competitive Ads and Services Policy.
Competitive Ads and Services

In order to prevent user confusion, we do not permit Google ads or search boxes to be published on websites that also contain other ads or services formatted to use the same layout and colors as the Google ads or search boxes on that site. Although you may sell ads directly on your site, it is your responsibility to ensure these ads cannot be confused with Google ads.

How does this affect publishers? Essentially if you have any non-Google ads on your site that resemble AdSense – even if they are not contextually targeted ads – they will now put you in violation of the AdSense policies. Publishers that are running AdSense along with YPN for example would be in violation. Even if you sell ads that are not contextual but the ad units look like AdSense, you could be in violation. Jennifer provides an thorough analysis of the change and the impact it may have on publishers at JenSense.


Up to two referral units from each referral product or offering may be displayed on a page, in addition to the ad units, search boxes, and link units specified above.

The previous policy restricted publishers to having up to only four referral products, each with one button only, on their page at a time.

Using Referrals

Referral offerings must be made without any obligation or requirement to end users. Publishers may not solicit email addresses from users in conjunction with AdSense referral units.

AdSense Ad Units & Images

  • May not direct user attention to the ads via arrows or other graphical gimmicks
  • May not place misleading images alongside individual ads

AdSense for Search

AdSense for search results pages may show only a single ad link unit in addition to the ads Google serves with the search results. No other ads may be displayed on your search results page.

Copyright Material

Website publishers may not display Google ads on web pages with content protected by copyright law unless they have the necessary legal rights to display that content. Please see our DMCA policy for more information.

The policy used to state that publishers may not display Google ads on web pages with MP3, Video, News Groups, and Image Results. The prior still applies but they have tightened up the policy to include “content protected by copyright law.”

David Wallace

David Wallace

David Wallace, co-founder and CEO of SearchRank, is a recognized expert in the industry of search and social media marketing. Since 1997, David has been involved in developing successful search engine and social media marketing campaigns for large and small businesses.

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